June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.503.1 - 11.503.15
DYNAMIC SYSTEMS TEACHING ENHANCEMENT USING A LABORATORY BASED PROJECT (R.U.B.E.)
A Dynamic Systems course always relies on materials from previous mathematics and engineering courses. In Mechanical Engineering, these underlying courses are critical to the student’s success in understanding Dynamic System’s material. However, students rarely see the inter-relationship between material from different courses since there is no obvious common link. A Dynamic Systems course must allow the student to see the inter-relationship of this material.
A new variation of this course has been incrementally developed over the past few years to include both an analytical project and a laboratory based project to help the students firmly grasp the material. The analytical project is an individual effort in which the student solves a second- order differential equation using multiple methods: closed-form solution, Laplace transform, and MATLAB and Simulink solutions. Each student has a different set of parameters defined based on student ID information. This reminds the students of the foundation differential equations knowledge they will require for the remainder of the course.
An updated laboratory project on a second order mechanical system further enhances the student’s understanding. The students use a system referred to as RUBE (Response Under Basic Excitation). The RUBE system is an internet-based data acquisition system for a second order mass-spring-dashpot system. The system has variable mechanical parameters—it changes every time it is operated so that no two sets of data are alike (variable input, variable mass, variable stiffness). This forces each student to process his/her own data, as it will be slightly different from data sets collected by other students. Students work in groups, collect data, and prepare detailed reports summarizing their efforts. Students also perform a peer review of submitted projects, providing another valuable learning experience.
Assessments of the first three semesters of the project clearly indicate that the students enjoyed the hands-on project and clearly felt that they understood the material in much greater depth as a result of the project.
Understanding basic STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) material is critical to a student’s ability to progress satisfactorily in upper level courses. Earlier courses often appear to have no relevance, from a student’s perspective. As a result, students feel that they do not command the subject matter well enough and sometimes feel that it is too late to catch up on review what they now realize they should have already known from previous courses. Figure 1 shows a cartoon expressing the student’s eventual realization as they approach the latter part of the undergraduate educational career.
Avitabile, P., & Van Zandt, T., & Hodgkins, J., & Wirkkala, N. (2006, June), Dynamic Systems Teaching Enhancement Using A Laboratory Based Project (Rube) Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--414
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